— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) June 6, 2016
To be honest, I’ve avoided all but the headlines over this horrific Brock Turner rape case until today. It hits particularly close to home for me, because as a virgin in college, I was raped while blackout drunk. Afterward, I tried to bring it up to him, but he insisted that he hadn’t done anything wrong. I felt so much shame and blamed myself, my drinking, my inability to take control of my body. I still deal with the aftermath of it; I finally told my parents what happened a few months ago, 10 years after it actually happened. I never confronted the dude about it again and he remains friends with some of my friends to this day. I think it confuses him why some of us avoid him and I wonder if he even remembers it as it was- sex without consent. It put me on the fast track to figuring out who I am and what I believe in… that my body is MINE and no one else’s.
I’ve seen the headlines and the posts all over Facebook the past few days, but it wasn’t until this video came across my Twitter that I took some time to really consider it. And actually, even though the video makes my stomach turn and tears well up in my eyes, I actually feel some kind of solace watching Ashleigh Banfield passionately read the victim’s letter. I can almost feel her rage and I believe there is something special about women standing up for other women that is palpable in this video. It gave me pause, and lead me to conclude that society has made huge steps in the past 10 years in identifying and bringing to the surface the systemic problem of rape culture. I see my friends on Facebook, women AND men, rallying behind the innocent women, furious at the rapist. I see that 200,000 people signed a petition against Judge Aaron Persky who gave him such a lenient sentence. I see USA Swimming banned him from membership, and the Twitterverse has taken up arms against the ignorant father who defended his rapist son. We still have a long way to go to end rape culture and the people who allow it to go unchecked, but I truly feel that if what happened to me 10 years ago happened today, I might have the courage to say something and to publicly defend my body, knowing that my experience would not be shoved under a rug. Yes, some trolls may still say I deserved it for being so drunk or wearing a short skirt or whatever, but that those voices would be drowned out by the voices of the people fighting and demanding justice alongside me. Let’s keep standing up and fighting and see how much further we can get in the next 10 years.